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‘Hairspray’ sticks to bygone teenage era

Micky Dolenz Monkees (left) meets with GinGuarino (center) Frank Hattulwho are playing Tracy EdnTurnblad 'Hairspray' which opens Saturday Merrillville's Star

Micky Dolenz of the Monkees (left) meets with Gina Guarino (center) and Frank Hattula, who are playing Tracy and Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray," which opens Saturday at Merrillville's Star Plaza Theatre. Photo Provided~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 23, 2012 3:14AM



Frank Hattula has a distinct role in “Hairspray,” a musical that starts a run July 30 in Merrillville.

“I play Edna Turnblad,” noted Hattula, a resident of Hammond’s Robertsdale section. “This is the first time that I’ve played a woman on stage.”

The public can see how the 41-year-old actor handles the challenge when Star Productions presents a regional theater production of “Hairspray” at the Star Plaza Theatre.

Hattula’s task in portraying Edna, as he sees it, is “making her believable that she’s soft and genuine, but not camping it up.”

There were a couple of physical things for Hattula to get used to while learning the role of Edna Turnblad.

“First was getting used to walking in high-heel shoes — that’s definitely a different walk or a different gait,” he said.

The other hurdle was wearing body-shaping Spanx, which, according to Hattula, “is a support undergarment that women wear, essentially to suck it in.”

In the Star Productions’ version of “Hairspray,” Gina Guarino portrays Tracy Turnblad.

Guarino said that she approaches the role of Tracy by infusing the teenage character with “truth and honesty and warmth.”

As Guarino sees it, Tracy ends up triumphant in the musical.

“She’s the underdog that wins the day,” explained the 28-year-old resident of Palos Hills, Ill.

Tracy Turnblad is a heroine who approaches dancing with fervor, and wins a spot on a television dance program in the 1960s.

Last month, Guarino and Hattula received a little tutoring from Micky Dolenz of the Monkees.

The Monkees were performing at the Star Plaza Theatre, and Dolenz took time for an on-site meeting with the two performers.

Dolenz, singer and drummer for the Monkees, played Wilbur Turnblad in a production of “Hairspray” in London’s West End.

At the Star Plaza Theatre, starting July 30, the part of Wilbur Turnblad in “Hairspray” will be played by Charlie Blum, president and chief executive officer of Merrillville-based Star Productions, for which he books shows at Star Plaza Theatre.

Performances of “Hairspray” are set for 8 p.m. July 30; 2 p.m. July 31; 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.

Tickets are $20 and $25. They’re available at the Star Plaza Theatre’s box office. Visit www.starplazatheatre.com for more details.

As for a little background, “Hairspray” also was a 1988 movie directed by the subversive John Waters.

Sonny Bono, of Sonny & Cher fame, and Debbie Harry, of Blondie fame, appeared in the nostalgic piece of satire about the integration of a teen-dance TV show in Baltimore during the early ’60s.

Waters is known for edgy cinema, but his film version of “Hairspray” was pretty tame, garnering a PG rating. The film was remade in 2007 with John Travolta playing Edna Turnblad.

Bob Kostanczuk talks entertainment with Steve “The Preacher” Glover from 4:15 to 5 p.m. each Friday on WJOB-AM (1230) and online at WJOB1230.com.



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